August 15, 2010 (this day)

I would like to complain about my personal menopause (or lack thereof), but I looked at the bottom of my page, to where I choose a character defect to pay special attention to, and complaining is right there, chosen for this day.  So no complaints.  A report of my feelings about dragging out the old calendar to make another entry would include the words “sad” and “tired.”

We continue on with the preparations for Erika’s move.  We now have more of a date and more of a plan.  I will miss my dog and my work meeting, most likely.  It promises to be an emotional, hectic, grueling, expensive time, and I hope I don’t bleed through it as well.

Not complaining though.

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A.A.’s Manner of Making Ready (Step Twelve continued)

A.A.’s manner of making ready to receive this gift lies in the practice of the Twelve Steps in our program.  So let’s consider briefly what we have been trying to do up to this point:

Step One showed us an amazing paradox:  We found that we were totally unable to be rid of the alcohol obsession until we first admitted that we were powerless over it.

Yes!  I repeat this part of my story a lot, both here and in person.  But it is the key that turned the lock.  How I wish I could explain it better so that others could benefit from my understanding.

I knew I was an alcoholic very early on.  I knew it intellectually.  I understood and could articulate that when I started drinking, I couldn’t predict what would happen and I was often unable to stop again.  Alcoholic.

But again and again and again, deep in my misery, I decided to try drinking again.  I believed at times that I could do it differently, that I could stop before I got too drunk, that I could control it enough to get by.

Those two trains of thought contradict each other.  The thought that I could do it again, no matter how small that belief was, prevented me from achieving lasting sobriety.

The “psychic change” that occurred, for me, after years of trying to “get” AA, made me understand that I could not stop drinking, with or without AA, I could not stop.  When I understood that on all levels, not just intellectually, I was able to be rid of it.

I love AA paradoxes.  You cannot stop until you admit that you cannot stop.

August 13, 2010 (more from yesterday’s spot check)

I didn’t finish yesterday’s thought because a very important reality television show was on.

So I’ve identified anxiety as a character defect and even if I have good cause for anxiety, like a daughter moving away, I must grow in my ability to tolerate and handle it.  I think my success with avoiding drugs on my flights is a good omen for me and lets me know that I do have the tools to handle things, if only I will practice and use them.  The anxiety thing will be much longer lived than a few plane flights.  It will last my whole life.  I want to lessen it as much as I can.  I still believe that if I take drugs to deal with it, I won’t get anywhere in my ability to tolerate it.  Just like flying.  Again, my mind considers “legal” highs, and my mind kicks my butt for not investigating further . . .

Along with anxiety, yesterday, I identified co-dependence and over-dependence.  There are a few people who, when they are upset, I find myself too close to them to avoid getting upset myself.  Again I don’t think it will be possible for me to eliminate that from my life completely.  I do believe I can lessen it.

These dependency terms are not terms I’ve used to describe myself much before now.

August 12, 2010 (stop check inventory)

I want and need to get on with the 12th Step, but I’m incredibly stressed right now.  I had a bad scene this morning and I think I was able to see some of what was wrong with me in it.  I so want to improve at this stuff.  I’m sure the step will help as well.  But my cup runneth over with stress.

I live in a fairly temperate place where it isn’t too hot or too cold for too long.  But the past three seasons have been an exception.  Last winter we had unrelenting cold and snow upon snow.  Now the heat and humidity won’t stop, week after week.  It’s worse than the cold because in the cold, at least the house was comfortable.  Now we don’t cook or clean or exercise, inside or outside.  It’s making me nuts.

Erika is leaving.  That is stressful enough.  Even though I could not have written a better script for her leaving, she is leaving.  She’s been a main focus of my attention, time, energy, money, everything, for 26 years, since I got pregnant.  She’s going far away to a place where she knows no one and will have no one to help her.

Her move is what’s actually just about killing me.  She has to stay with us for a few days, her and her two cats, in the swelter.  Then we have to help her when the movers get her stuff to where she’s going but they won’t give us a date.  I’m a nut about planning.

Add to that the fact that when her stuff will likely arrive, I have a VERY IMPORTANT all day training at work, one that was planned weeks in advance because, literally, eight people and a whole department are involved for the day.  But will it be the same day?  Who knows?  I don’t.  Maybe I will find out tomorrow.

All this (and more) made me literally unable to handle confusion about my other obsession.  My obsession.  Where will she be during all this?  Probably sweltering, home alone.

AA Slogans

I call them “truisms.”  I’ve collected some and I don’t have much to say about them.  They stick with us, they haunt us, they have the power to change our lives.  Some came from the founders and literature, some are more recent.

  • Bring the body and the mind will follow.
  • But for the grace of God.
  • Do the next right thing.
  • Don’t drink and go to meetings.
  • Don’t quit before the miracle.
  • Easy does it.
  • Fake it till you make it.
  • First things first.
  • First thought wrong.
  • How important is it?
  • HALT (don’t get hungry, angry, lonely, tired)
  • I am responsible.
  • Keep it simple.
  • Let go and let God.
  • Live and let live.
  • Meeting makers make it.
  • No pain, no gain.
  • One day at a time.
  • Principles before personalities.
  • Progress, not perfection.
  • Restless, irritable and discontent (RID).
  • Think, think, think.
  • This too shall pass.
  • Time takes time.
  • To thine own self be true.

August 8, 2010 (this day)

I’m waiting to go to church, then Carole and I are going for a brunch she won playing golf.  She’s saying it to celebrate our 5th anniversary, the anniversary of when we got married in the church, if not in the state.  This past June we marked 13 years together.

The photograph was taken at our meeting last night.  I asked someone to lead who I’ve known I guess the whole time I’ve lived here, so for about 12 years.  I knew we had lots of things in common, but last night I was amazed.

This is part of what I love about AA.  No where else in my life, really, except very occasionally would I get to know so well and “identify” with a woman like Elizabeth.  No where else in my life was I told to and taught to “identify” with anyone at all.

Elizabeth and I also have many differences, but among our shared details:

  • we are approximately the same age
  • we are approximately the same height (an unusual height, or lack thereof)
  • we grew up with little supervision (for very different reasons)
  • we started drinking at approximately the same age
  • we got involved with an older man
  • we stopped drinking at approximately the same age and within three weeks of each other
  • so we have been sober for 26 years
  • we broke up with our man (I went on to another, oh well)
  • we identified as gay
  • we have a long-term relationship with crazy women.  Elizabeth used the term “wiry” to describe them.  She and her partner have been together, I think, for almost 20 years.

How cool is that?  Very cool, and further proof that I am not unique.  I’ve heard thousands of “stories,” I’m sure, by this time.  How much richer my life is for it!

What He Has Received is a Free Gift (Step Twelve continued)

What he has received is a free gift, and yet usually, at least in some small part, he has made himself ready to receive it.

Maybe this is part of key to the chronic relapsers.

I glanced at the paragraph ahead, and it goes on to explain that a bit.  Without reading it, the first thought that came to my mind was how I had to beaten down to the ground, beaten down to death, to make myself ready to receive it.  I needed and believed I needed alcohol so drastically that I truly had to driven to the very edge of functioning at all in order to receive the gift of sobriety, the gift of freedom from that obsession.